Aviso Agency

A guide to the STCW and updates

The 2010 Manila amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch Keeping for Seafarers (STCW) require certificates to be updated by the end of this year. Do you know what you need to do to update your STCW certificates?

If your answer is no, then fear not. Here is a quick guide to STCW and the forthcoming refresher courses.

Who needs to take them?

If you hold STCW safety certifications which are more than five years old, then you will need to take a refresher course. This applies to all positions on board and to both basic and advanced courses.

If this sounds like a lot of hassle don’t worry, it’s not you don’t have to re-sit the whole thing. Websites like Bluewater’s state that you are only required to update:

  1. Basic fire prevention and fire-fighting;
  2. Personal survival techniques;
  3. Advanced fire-fighting; and
  4. Advanced sea survival.

Please also note that if you have only taken the basic courses then you only need to update the basic ones. If you have the advanced certification then you will need to update both.

When does this have to be done by?

According to the Manila amendments, the STCW safety courses need to be updated by January 1st 2017 – ie, by the end of this year.

Many training centres are expecting crew to leave all this until the very last moment. So avoid the rush and start thinking about it now.

What’s more, this won’t be your last refresher course. The regulations state that you will need to refresh every five years.

I’m worried that I might not complete the courses in time?

If you continue to put off revalidation then you do run this risk. If you do not complete in time then legally you will not be able to work on a commercial or private yacht of over 24m. The yacht too may be at risk.

Port State Control (PSC) will be heightening its certification checks from the end of this year. If a yacht is then found to have non-certified crew on board she could be prevented from operating.

What are the differences between the Maritime Coastguard Agency and the US Coast Guard?

The MCA allows for continued competency on board, which can be signed off on a declaration (see MCA MIN469). Combined with a short shoreside course, this is enough for renewal. However, without the declaration, crew will need to take longer shore courses, or the full original course.

The USCG gives two options:

  1. With 360 days of qualifying sea time (service that includes proper continuing competency training and onboard demonstration of STCW VI), you are able to take a shorter revalidation course.
  2. Without the sea time the refresher course will be longer.

If you are in any doubt which applies to you, go for the longer course!

The main things to take away from all of this are:

  1. Don’t keep putting off the revalidation. Get it done sooner rather than later!!! There are more than 1.4 million seafarers affected by the Manila amendments. Once you have completed the refresher courses, keep the proof with you on board.
  2. If you follow this advice, there should be nothing to worry about, and you can continue enjoying your carreer

Added: 21st January 2016

10 Phrases You Never Knew Came From Sailing

When you stop to think about it… sailing is pretty amazing. From a historical perspective, through its role in travel, trade and war, it was the absolute hinge of western civilization for hundreds of years. Through that time, sailors’ slang and terminology became rooted in the English lexicon and still exists profoundly to this day.

Here’s a list of 10 everyday phrases that you may not have realised were born in the days when sailing made the world go round… Wait… Is that a nautical phrase?

“A clean bill of health”

According to the dictionary this phrase derives from the days when the crew of ocean going ships might be a little less than hygienic. So they needed to present a certificate, carried by a ship, attesting to the presence or absence of infectious diseases among the ship’s crew and at the port from which it has come.

“Feeling Blue”

How often do you hear people talking about feeling blue or have the blues? An entire genre of music comes from this phrase. Who knew that came from the world of sailing? See-the-sea.org explains the popular phrase comes from a custom that was practiced when a ship lost its captain during a voyage. The ship would fly blue flags and have a blue band painted along her hull when she returned to port.

“Pipe down”

Parents have been screaming “pipe down” to their kids forever, but where does that actually come from? Apparently, Pipe Down was the last signal from the Bosun’s pipe each day, which meant lights-out, quiet down, time to go to bed.

“Over a barrel”

We all know when someone has you “over a barrel” things aren’t going well. This saying is used all the time these days to indicate being severely compromised, but it began in the most literal way. Sailor crew would sometimes be punished for their misgivings and that involved being tied over a cannon barrel and whipped. It’s no wonder that one stuck around. Yikes.

“Toe the line”

Perhaps you’ve been at work and your boss has scowled at you and said, “toe the line, or you’re gone”. If this has happened to you, we are sorry, that sounds like a horrible work environment. But, if you were wondering about the origins of his demand, it’s an old naval expression that refers to a ship’s crew would be called to gather and form a line with their toes all touching a given seam (or line) of the deck planking.

“By and Large”

Folks say this one all the time to refer to the big picture. “By and large, ASA is the most awesome organization in existence”… something like that. This term got started on a sailboat with the word “by” meaning into the wind and “large” meaning off the wind. So sailors would say: “By and large this ship handles quite nicely.”

“Loose cannon”

Everyone has known a few people who are loose cannons – unpredictable and dangerous on some level. Not surprisingly the term comes from when a ship’s cannon would come loose from it’s lashing. The big dangerous thing would be sliding all over the place making for some uncomfortable time on deck trying to get that bad boy back in its spot.

“A square meal”

People often talk about getting three “square meals” a day…what the hell is a square meal? It’s actually quite simple – the wooden plates back in the days of tall ships were square.

“Hand over fist”

These days this phrase usually refers to making a bunch of money, although it can refer to anything happening fast and in abundance. It comes from a more literal origin – sailors would be tugging at lines as fast as they could, hand over fist, to trim sheets and raise sails.

“Son of a gun”

It’s amazing that this phrase has lasted so long. Back in the day, as you might imagine, sailors were often less than virtuous and every once in a while a “lady friend” of a crewman might give birth to a child on the ship. A good spot for this sort of thing was between the guns on the gun deck. Now let’s say this little rascal isn’t claimed by any of the aforementioned sleazy sailors, this little grommet would sometimes be called a “son of a gun”.

Added: 29th September 2015

The importance of currency

The Mediterranean season is coming to an end, and now comes the time to tackle the less adventurous yet essential task of all, what to do with your hard earned money. You may consider buying a home, investing in a property abroad, paying off a chunk of your mortgage, or traveling the world. Whatever you choose to do, you will probably find yourself moving money to and from different currencies.

As simple as it sounds, there are many potential costs to be aware of when you exchange your money into another currency, like bank fees and additional charges; but more importantly, movements in the exchange rate. On the positive side, a favorable exchange rate can result in a considerable profit, so making the right move is crucial.

First of all, it is important to understand that the currency market is driven by supply and demand. Economic performance, political announcements, interest rate decisions, or mere speculation, have an immediate impact on the value of a currency. If an economy is performing poorly, this will discourage investors and reduce the demand of it´s currency, therefore weakening it´s value; and vice versa. The Greek turmoil, Chinese Black Monday, the uncertainty of the UK interest rate rise, or the release of economic performance figures of each economy, is creating these constant movements in the market prices of currency. This makes it very difficult to predict and a potential risk when you need to move your funds; even a relatively small movement in the exchange rate can have a significant impact on the funds received on the other end.

So how can we make sure we achieve the best possible exchange rate? Trying to understand the market and to predict what the rate is going to do can be very time-consuming and risky. Generally we use our bank to transfer funds abroad, but a bank won´t be able to give you advice on the currency trend, and they won´t apply a very competitive exchange rate. This is where a specialist currency exchange company can help you. A currency broker is constantly researching the market and keeping a close eye on the rates, and will give you free advice on the best time to move your money and achieve a favorable rate. But more importantly, a broker will offer extremely competitive exchange rates very close to the market price of the currency.

Premier FX is an expert currency exchange company with offices in London, Portugal and Spain. They are fully authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and registered with HMRC, ensuring the safety of your funds. Some of the benefits of using Premier FX include:

  • -No minimum amounts, and no fees or commissions.
  • -Your own professional broker at your disposal for free ongoing advice.
  • -Online service for simple regular transfers 24/7.
  • -Fixed rates for up to 2 years to take away the risks of exchange rate fluctuations.
  • -New free Currency Debit Cards, so you can travel the world without the danger of carrying all your expense money in cash, or being faced with outrageous bank fees and commissions.

Beware hidden costs

Financial costs can vary, from no premium being charged to a small percentage charge based on the value of the yacht.

Owners are strongly advised to confirm costs with the shipyard and their yacht insurance provider prior to committing to a refit, therefore avoiding any hidden costs arising after the refit deal has been signed.

It is therefore imperative that the yacht owner discusses the refit plan with their insurer before signing a Waiver of Subrogation. If not, they could find that their insurance cover is void.

Added: 22th September 2015

Yachting Insurance Tips


Often, shipyard’s insurance is not capable of dealing with the high value of some of the superyachts available on today’s market. The shipyard may therefore choose to protect itself by requesting a Waiver of Subrogation from the owner’s yacht insurer.

What is a ‘Waiver of Subrogation’?

When a yacht is held in a shipyard, the yard has an option to transfer its liability for any damages to the boat, to the vessel’s owner. This is where a Waiver of subrogation comes into play; ‘subrogation’ meaning ‘to substitute’.

The waiver also means that the shipyard doesn’t take any responsibility for the yacht whilst it is based in the yard - except in the cases of gross negligence and/ or a wilful act performed by the shipyard.

This means that the client’s insurance company will not be able to hold the shipyard responsible for any losses incurred while the vessel in their care, and therefore cannot demand payment from the yard for the loss

Choosing a leading specialist

Yacht insurance experts calculate endorsement’s for Waivers of Subrogation on a case by case basis, dependant on factors which include:

  • A yacht’s length of stay
  • The scope of the refit work
  • The shipyard’s professionalism
  • The extent of the waiver of subrogation itself

Beware hidden costs

Financial costs can vary, from no premium being charged to a small percentage charge based on the value of the yacht.

Owners are strongly advised to confirm costs with the shipyard and their yacht insurance provider prior to committing to a refit, therefore avoiding any hidden costs arising after the refit deal has been signed.

It is therefore imperative that the yacht owner discusses the refit plan with their insurer before signing a Waiver of Subrogation. If not, they could find that their insurance cover is void.

Added: 19th September 2015

The Rolex Fastnet 2015 - Update

As we write this the first of the Large multihulls are on their way back to the finish, having rounded the rock during the night and heading back at a rather more leisurely pace than they are normally used to.

The two leading monohulls (Rambler 88 and Comanche) are also around, charging back down the Celtic sea in hot pursuit of their normally faster multihull competitors. Both Leopard and Momo are also around but have only just rounded it and are a little further back. These leading teams are all vying for line honours in their classes and overall, but the smaller boats with their handicap are likely to be the overall winners when all the times are corrected.

The majority of the fleet are only just passing the Scilly isles, many of whom will have had the same boats for company since the start and it is within this group of boats that it is likely the eventual winner will emerge.

Watch this space for more updates and photos and videos from the start.

Added: 17th August 2015

The Start of the Rolex Fastnet 2015

The Fastnet 2015 - Record number of entries

The start of this years Fastnet was always going to be an interesting one with a record number of entries for this iconic offshore race to a small rock off the South coast of Ireland. The weather gods had deemed the years race was to be played out to a more sedate tune and with this in mind most crews had expected this one to take slightly longer than usual.

With the sun out and hundreds of spectator boats accompanying the start it was a slow drift over the line for the usually fast multihulls. With the biggest of them all, Spindrift, vying for position with the smaller MOD70 Phaedo3.

Once clear the smaller yachts started and faced similar issues to the multihulls, with most crews on the low side trying to eek out as much speed as possible by inducing heel. The larger IMOCA’s (open 60’s`) had similar issues with many crews looking up at their sails praying for some wind to help them tease their large offshore boats through the solent to their more familiar surroundings of the open waters.

But by the time the larger monohulls started the breeze had started to fill in meaning there was a little more action for the spectators to see from both the flotilla and the shore, the best of which saw Rambler 88 take the lead from Bretagne telecom and then have to tack twice in quick succession as Comanche, the large Maxi 100, called starboard on them. A great end to the start of the race and at least providing the expectant crowds with a sight of these magnificent machines in action.

Added: 16th August 2015

Golden Globe Race

The first ever round-the-world yacht race

April 22, 2015. The day and year that and anniversary race was announced. And the race? Well it could only be one really, and that is the Golden Globe race. The race is to start in June 2018 to mark the 50th anniversary. Competitors are to only have HF and VHF radios, sextants and barometers for help. So no GPS, no computers, no electric autopilots, no wind instruments, no sat phones or even IPODS. As the Australian race founder, Don McIntyre puts it “This race takes us back to the pre-digital era, when men like Sir Robin only faced the elements, and not other competitors with unlimited budgets and a shore team to talk them through every weather change”

With 26 solo sailors already committed, the entry limit has been extended from 20-30 competing yachts. Competitors must race standard 32-36ft long keeled production boats designed prior to 1988, and carry only the equipment that was available in 1968. It will set off from Falmouth, Cornwall on June 14 and is expected to take around 300 days.

Added: 21th May 2015

Financial Implications

With the ever changing economic climate of more attention needs to be paid to the financial implications of working offshore.

With the ever changing economic climate of the modern world, the old days of yacht crew being able to hide from the tax man are slowly disappearing. It is no longer a viable option to just bury one’s head in the sand and say “I’m offshore and not in my own country so don’t need to worry about paying tax”. New legislation and the fact that many governments are now slowly waking up to this so far untapped world of money mean that the above quote is no longer a viable option for the modern day yacht crew no matter where they are living or working.

New legislation has been bought in to place so that countries and their tax regimes are able to share information about foreign nationals between each other, with over 100 countries already committed to the Common Reporting Standard developed by the OECD, the need to be clued up on various tax implications and how your money is invested is even more important. The information that is shared is not just on those that tax authorities suspect of tax evasion it will include everyone, that is wether you are tax compliant or not. The information that is to be shared includes: account balances, interest, dividends, sales proceeds from financial assets.

This new information sharing system is due to come in to effect in 2016, with the information collected then ready to share in 2017, with 58 countries committed to be ready by then, including Spain, the rest of the EU, Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Gibraltar, Cayman Islands, Iceland, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Argentina and South Africa. A further 38 will start in 2018.

Within the EU itself the Common reporting standard will be implemented by the Administrative Co-operation Directive, a system which provides for the automatic information sharing of interest, dividends and other investment income, account balances, sales proceeds from from financial assets, income from employment, life insurance, pensions, directors fees and possibly most importantly property. This last one could have massive implications for a large number of yacht crew who have used their money to buy property in Europe, with a fair majority unaware that having bought property in say Palma their tax domicile may be affected.

The loss of financial privacy is a significant change and affects everyone who lives in one country and has financial assets in another. But what won’t change is the the fact that every individual can structure their finances in a tax efficient manner, this is also something which is a valuable piece of advice if you decide to leave the yachting industry and decide to settle somewhere.

If all the above sounds too daunting , do not be deterred from taking action , simply take specialist advice from a reputable adviser.

For more information on how to plan for the future please email info@avisoagency.com and we'll introduce you to our partners.

Added: 19th May 2015

Insurance For Yachties


Q :What is one of the most  essential elements of an individual's  financial planning that is most often overlooked/ignored by yacht crew ?

A : Protection for the individual and/or their family i.e. life assurance, medical cover, accident and sickness protection.

Q : Why is this the case ?

A :Many boats offer life and other types of  cover whilst you are  employed on that boat and therefore crew feel they are fully protected .

Q : So how is this a problem ?

A :Quite often such cover is literally only valid when you are on the boat and not even in the dockyard or ashore . Also in an industry where crew frequently move from boat to boat there is the potential for there to be periods when they have no cover. For somebody who has a family that would rely on an insurance payout in the event of death/ accident or injury it would be catastrophic were this to occur at a time of no cover.

Q :What is the solution ?

A : 1) Check the terms of the cover provided by your boat

  • 2) Take out your own protection insurance (in addition to that provided by the boat) to ensure continuity of cover wherever you are and whatever you are doing. A further reason for taking cover out now is that medical conditions that may develop later in life could make you uninsurable, whereas having cover already in place means that this would not be an issue.
  • 3) Ensure that any cover implemented is valid worldwide.


    If all this seems like too much effort, as part of our endeavour to be more than just a crew agency, Aviso are delighted to announce that we have established a relationship with a highly reputable insurance broker of 30 years standing based in Mallorca to provide cover specifically for yacht crew worldwide. He will implement only the cover you need with a minimum of input from yourself.


The cover he is able to offer specifically for yacht crew is as follows:

  • Life assurance - cover up to £500,000 without the requirement for a medical examination open to any nationality and valid worldwide. Cover in excess of the above would require a medical.
  • Medical insurance - Cover for individuals (and their families if required) is through a reputable international organisation or can be tailored for a yacht specific scheme solely for deckhands. Once again this is open to all nationalities and is valid worldwide.
  •  Accident/sickness - this is cover that is very often overlooked but it can be vital in providing the financial assistance needed during periods of absence from work for up to two years. Again, all nationalities qualify and it is valid worldwide.

If you wish to take advantage of the no obligation quotation service that we have established with this broker, please click here and complete the short information capture form.

Added: 19th May 2015

Superyacht Awards 2015

Amsterdam played host to the World Superyacht awards on Saturday 9th May.

The who’s who of the Superyacht world were there, including yard representatives, owners and designers, who all gathered to see which yacht would win this years Neptune trophies.

The sailing yacht of the year was won by Baltic yachts’ aptly named ‘WinWin’, also winning the 30-40m award. Their 33m yacht obviously seduced the judges with it’s balance between performance, style and comfort.

Motor yacht of the year was won by the stunning 73m Grace E, the Philippe Briand/ Vitruvius designed superyacht with the ultimate sundeck spa had been overwhelming favourite to win the award. She also scooped the award for displacement motor yacht of 1,300 to 2,999 GT of 75m and below.

Lürssen’s 95.2m Kismet won the very hotly contested Displacement Motor Yacht of 1,300 to 2,999GT of 75m and above award. Coming out on top after all the points were totted up. Headship enjoyed a very successful night, winning 3 awards. Best rebuild with Ancallia, best semi-displacement yacht above 38m with Como scooping yet another Neptune trophy, along with their owner Lord Laidlaw who won a legacy award.

Royal Hüisman grabbed the top two spots for sailing yacht of 45m and above with Wisp clinching top spot followed closely by Elfje the sweet-lined 52m NextGEN pilot ketch.

Arctic P won the voyager category for her 2nd trip to the Antarctic, this time taking in the Ross sea, skirting the Ross ice shelf and south on to Roosevelt Island. This last part of their trip got them in to the Guiness Book of records for the most Southerly location reached by any vessel (commercial, merchant, armed forces, yacht).

Other winners included:

  • FARFALLA- Quality and Value
  • ALUMERCIA and AMORE MIO 2- Tied for Refitted Yacht
  • SO’MAR- SEmi-displacement or planing 3 deck MY of 30-40m
  • POLARIS- Semi-displacement or planing 3 deck MY above 40m
  • NONO- Semi-displacement or planing 2 deck MY 30-37.99m
  • ONIKA- Displacement MY of below 500GT of 30-43.99m
  • ELENA- Displacement MY of below 500GT of 44m and above
  • MYSKY- Displacement MY of 500-1,299GT
  • KISMET- Displacement MY of 1,300- 2,999GT of 75m and above

Added: 16th May 2015